Noa is chomping at the bit to get stuck into Hawaii. Photo by Bethany Carlson
The Weekly caught up with erstwhile longtime Jeju residents Simon and Rho Edmunds, with daughter Noa, before their move to Hawaii to start a new life. The Edmunds’ met and married on the island, and daughter Noa has spent all of her short years here.
What brought you both to Jeju, initially? Simon: I heard it was a nice enough place and thought, why not? Rho: I had done 16 months in Seoul, and really loved being in Korea, but wanted a slower, friendlier pace than Seoul. How could I go wrong with the “Hawaii of Korea,” right?
You are now taking your family to Hawaii after five years here - do you see this as an upgrade? Simon: Definitely an upgrade in terms of weather, but apart from that, we know that there will be positives and negatives. I don’t see it as so much an upgrade as a change.
What’s the best and worst change you’ve seen on the island? Simon: Best change is the growing options for foreign foods; the island was pretty lacking in culinary variation when I first arrived. Also, the increasing prevalence of budget airlines has made travel much easier and cost-effective. I can’t really think of anything that has gotten really bad...maybe too many cheap pizza places now?
Rho, your husband is known as the ‘Enfield Jamie Oliver’ - is this a well-earned moniker? Rho: Hahaha! My hubby is an excellent cook. In the first two years after Noa was born, we enjoyed hosting dinner parties, and people seemed to be excited when they were invited. We actually did two “awareness” dinners for the UK Motor Neurone Disease Association and raised well over a million won for the cause. So yes, maybe he does deserve the title!
Jeju has a bit of a reputation for bringing couples together - were you seduced by the honeymoon island, or each other? Rho: I think it was the thrill of Jeju United’s improving performance! How could I resist him when every time we went to a match together, the team played better?
Yes, I hear you and Simon were fully paid-up ‘Insane Islanders’ in those early days. Have you put your football ultra days firmly behind you now? Rho: It just got so hard to make it to the games as Noa got a bit older. Especially when she was crawling...that stadium was definitely not kid-friendly. I think maybe we did hang up our shirts. One of the sad realities of getting old!
SImon, Rho and Noa enjoyed their time on Jeju but said goodbye to settle in Hawaii, USA. Photo by Bethany Carlson
How does single life on Jeju compare to married life? Simon: I live in a nicer house, don’t have to do my own laundry, and I have two cute ladies waiting at home for me every night. It is definitely a better deal than single life.
Does the move feel like you are “going back to the real world,” as some expats say? Rho: Not at all. I am really sad to be leaving Jeju. This place has become “home” to me. It is where I met my husband, and where our daughter was born. We have so many happy memories here, like “there’s the place we were eating when I had my first bout of morning sickness!” When we leave here, we will be leaving home. The transition is going to be difficult.
Is Jeju a fantasy island? Rho: It is definitely presented as such, and the reality is not as nice as the tourist books. But that is not saying it isn’t a wonderful place. I just think it is over-exaggerated to newcomers. Just let the island speak for itself, no need to gloss it up.
Are you saying Jeju isn’t paradise? Rho: You are going to get my ARC revoked! But no, Jeju is not a paradise. Is it nicer than a lot of places I have been? Well, definitely. But it also has its fair share of problems.
Let’s see what Noa thinks. Noa, what’s the best thing about Jeju? Noa: Mommy and daddy and peoples. And me too.
Who are your best friends? Noa: Shi-Hu and mommy and daddy and Min Gyeong and Cynthia and Minseo and Mingi.
What about your favorite Korean food? Noa: I like bread and peanut butter and mushrooms and bulgogi. Mm, that’s not very Korean! How about kimchi? Noa: Ummm, I didn’t like kimchi ever ever! It’s really spice. But I liked the red kimchi I make at school.
Wow, you made kimchi! Can you use chopsticks? Noa: Um, yeah. I want roi chopsticks, but I have amber. I only like roi chop-sticks and poli chopsticks.
Noa definitely knows her chopsticks! Finally, if you could build your own whacky theme park on the island, what would it be? Rho: Well, miniature world wonders, teddy bears, sexual innuendo, and cooking utensils are all covered...Maybe Boy Band Land? That could be fun... Simon: 3D Laser World where your mission is to hunt giant cockroaches! Rho: Oh wow...
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